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Writing Overarching Understandings, Unit Goals, and Essential Questions for Backward by Design Unit Plan

Assessment 3550

Alissa Schwartz

on 3 September 2014

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Transcript of Writing Overarching Understandings, Unit Goals, and Essential Questions for Backward by Design Unit Plan

Stage 1 - "BIG IDEAS"

Writing Unit Goals, Enduring Understandings/Unit Questions, and Essential Questions for Backward by Design Unit Plan
Writing Enduring Understandings/Unit Questions

enduring understandings/unit questions
can be difficult to define at first. However, if you think of what is important to remember about a concept, topic or skill after 10-20 years, you will be describing an enduring understanding.
Enduring Understanding(s)/Unit Question(s):

Students will understand that...
Students will know...
Students will be able to...

Established Goal/Unit Goal/Standard and/or Benchmark:
The student will explain westward expansion of America between 1801 and 1861.

Describe territorial expansion with emphasis on the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis & Clark expedition, and the acquisitions of Texas (the Alamo and independence), Oregon (Oregon Trail), and California (Gold Rush and the development of mining towns)

Describe the impact of life in America.

Enduring Understandings/Unit Questions:
Students will

Many pioneers had naive ideas about the opportunities and difficulties of moving West.

People move for a variety of reasons for new economic opportunities, greater freedom or to flee something.

Successful pioneers rely on courage, ingenuity, and collaboration to overcome hardships and challenges.

Enduring Understandings/Unit Questions:
Students will

Key facts about the westward movement and pioneer life on the prairie
Pioneer vocabulary terms
Basic geography (i.e., the travel routes of pioneers and location of their settlements)

Enduring Understandings/Unit Questions:
will be able to

Recognize, define, and use pioneer vocabulary in context
Use research skills (with guidance) to find out about life on the wagon train and prairie
Express their findings orally and in writing

Essential Questions:

Why do people move?
Why did the pioneers leave their homes to head west?
How do geography and topography affect travel and settlement?
Why did some pioneers survive and prosper while others did not?
What is a pioneer?
What is “pioneer spirit”?
What was pioneer life really like?
Writing Essential Questions

An essential question is developed from an enduring understanding.

Assessment Evidence

Other Evidence:

Oral and/or written response to one of the Essential Questions
Drawing(s) showing hardships of pioneer life
Test on facts about westward expansion, life on the prairie, and basic geography
Explanation of the “memory box” contents
Assessment Evidence

Performance Assessments:

Create a museum display, including artifacts, pictures, and diary entries, depicting “a week in the life” of a family of settlers living on the prairie. (What common misunderstandings do folks today have about prairie life and westward settlement?)
Write 1 letter a day (each representing a month of travel) to a friend “back east” describing your life on the wagon train and the prairie. Tell about your hopes and dreams, then explain what life on the frontier was really like. (Students may also draw pictures and explain orally.)

Once you have identified what it is important for students to know or be able to do at the end of a unit of instruction, UBD requires that you design an
through which students can demonstrate their mastery of the material.


Having identified the indicator(s) to be addressed, the essential question(s) and the enduring understanding(s), the UBD template next asks for the assessments that will occur within the unit.

summative assessment
should be developed before any learning activities are planned.
formative assessments
will be developed as individual lesson plans are created.
Writing Essential Questions

Essential questions call upon our best thinking and touch upon those matters that define what it means to be human. They are questions that help us to make meaning out of the events and circumstances of our lives.
There is a huge difference between knowledge on the one hand and understanding or insight on the other hand.
Schools often engage students in collecting answers, in accumulating information. But essential questions require that students spend time pondering the meaning and importance of information.
Essential questions are questions that resonate within our hearts and our souls. They are central to our lives. Most important thought during our lives will center on such essential questions.
Writing Essential Questions

Essential questions reside at the top of Bloom's Taxonomy. They require students to EVALUATE (make a thoughtful choice between options, with the choice based upon clearly stated criteria), to SYNTHESIZE (invent a new or different version) or to ANALYZE (develop a thorough and complex understanding through skillful questioning).
Essential questions spark our curiosity and sense of wonder. They derive from some deep wish to understand some thing which matters to us.
Answers to essential questions cannot be found. They must be invented. It is something like cooking a great meal. The researcher goes out on a shopping expedition for the raw ingredients, but "the proof is in the pudding." Students must construct their own answers and make their own meaning from the information they have gathered. They create insight.
Established Goals/Unit Goals/Standards
(As related to your particular unit)

Here you will want to identify the specific goal or name the state/national standard from your "BIG IDEA" that is being addressed in your unit.
Established Goal/Unit Goal/Standard and/or Benchmark

Wyoming Standard

Production, Distribution, and Consumption

Students demonstrate an understanding of economic principles and concepts and describe the influence of economic factors on societies.

District Benchmark

(Fremont County)

Students will identify major reasons for west-ward expansion

Subject Area:
Social Studies

Unit of Study/BIG IDEA:
Westward Expansion

Grade Level:
5th Grade

Time Frame:
Three–Six Weeks

IEP/ELL Considerations:
Require less content, such as fewer objectives, shorter lessons, or a smaller number of vocabulary words. Previews of important vocabulary or key points. Use of advance organizers.

Cover Page Requirements

Background Info:

Studying Westward Expansion helps students understand how the United States
exploded in both size and population during the mid 1800s. This was a time in
which our country reached to explore its boundaries all the way to the Pacific

“Manifest destiny” was a phrase used by leaders and politicians in the 1840s to
explain that it was the United States’ destiny and mission to expand its boundaries
by moving westward. The original 13 colonies had grown, and the desire for new
land increased.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Homestead Act, the Gold Rush, the Oregon
Trail, and the Transcontinental Railroad were turning points, which changed life
for thousands. People began moving west for land, gold, power, and wealth. Some
of the dreams were fulfilled, but often people left the West in despair.

Intertwined with the events of this historical period are the Native Americans.
Sometimes encounters between those moving West and the Native Americans were
positive and at other times they were disastrous. Unfortunately, negative
encounters resulted from a misunderstanding of the values of the other’s culture.
Standard(s) Addressed:

(To create an interdisciplinary unit, you will need to consider standards/benchmarks from other subject areas that you will address in your thematic unit.)

Production, Distribution, and Consumption

Students demonstrate an understanding of economic principles and concepts and describe the influence of economic factors on societies.

District Benchmark

(Fremont County)

Students will identify major reasons for west-ward expansion
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